Baku, February 4, AZERTAC
WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab has declared that the recent cluster of microcephaly and neurological disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and requires a united response. In a statement posted on the organization’s website, she defined it an "extraordinary event" and a public health threat to other parts of the world, on the basis of a strong suspicion of a causal link between this cluster of disorders and Zika virus disease, as agreed by the experts on the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee.
“The combination of broad geographical distribution of mosquito species that can transmit the virus, the absence of immunity against the virus throughout the world and lack of both a vaccine and rapid, reliable diagnostic tests raises concerns that Zika virus disease will spread globally.”
“Every European country in which Aedes mosquitos are present can be at risk for the spread of Zika virus disease. A number of travellers infected with Zika have entered Europe, but the disease has not been transmitted further, as the mosquito is still inactive. With the onset of spring and summer, the risk that Zika virus will spread increases.”
She said: “Now is the time for countries to prepare themselves to reduce the risk to their populations. As there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus disease, we must protect the European Region by stopping the disease at its source. I urge European countries to act early in a coordinated way to: control the mosquitoes, including community engagement in eliminating mosquito breeding sites and planning for insecticide spraying and killing of larvae in case of outbreaks; inform people at risk, especially pregnant women, about preventing mosquito bites; enhance surveillance and ensure laboratory detection of Zika virus disease and its neurological complications; and step up research to understand Zika virus disease and develop diagnostic tests and vaccines.”